Nearly 20,000 Sikhs, including women and children, gathered at Chakkan Da Bagh, Khari Dharamsal village in Poonch sector, Jammu and Kashmir, and prayed for peace and transquilty in the area on Sunday. The crowd gathered despite heavy mortar shelling and automatic weapons fire by Pakistani troops on Saturday which led to the death of a Territorial Army (TA) jawan along with his wife and injuries to three minor girls.
The people came from different parts of J&K to join the concluding function of Akhand Path, a 42-day long religious congregation going on in the village, hardly 30 kms from the barbed wire fence along the LoC. They also conveyed their sympathies to the bereaved families whose members had died in Pakistani shelling in the past and prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls. Karmara village, which falls less than 200 meters from the site of the congregation, has witnessed indiscriminate mortar shelling by Pakistan.
There had been small arms fire by Pakistani troops on the Indian side in the area on Saturday night also and the gun shots were audible to people attending the Akhand Path at Khari Dharamsal. The unsuccessful BAT action by Pakistani troops last month, in which two Indian soldiers and two intruders were killed in exchange of fire between two sides, too had taken place in Khari Karmara area, nearly 200 mts from the place congregation had been in progress.
“It was our faith that prevailed upon the scare of cross border mortar shelling and small arms fire, otherwise there had been nearly a dozen incidents of ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops in the area since May 28 last,” said Jagpreet Singh, an employee of the revenue department. There had been community kitchen (langer) also round the clock, as also medical camp for local people, he said.
The practice of holding annual congregation along the LoC had started in 1995 in the name of Sant Bhai Bahadur Singh Ji who came to to Khari Dharamsal in the 18th century and established his Dera there. As many a local people and devotees used to visit him to participate in daily satsang and listen to his sermons, he got a dharamsal constructed at the present place for brief stay on the people passing through the area.
Well known Sikh preachers, Bhai Sarabjeet Singh and Sant Tejwant Singh Danna addressed the congregation which was attended among others by Brigadier A S Parekar of 93 Infantry Brigade, besides Poonch Senior Senior Superintendent of Police Rajiv Pandey.